Ernst: Sending Feds To Portland Was ‘Proper Thing To Do’

By Elizabeth Meyer

July 21, 2020

As President Donald Trump threatens to station federal law enforcement officers in Democratic-run cities across the country, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said she supports sending federal officers to cities where federal property is at risk.

“We are not going to stand idly by and let people destroy federal property,” Ernst said Tuesday morning on a conference call with reporters, in response to a question from the Des Moines Register about whether it was appropriate for the president to send federal officers to police Portland, Oregon, and other American cities.

The federal law enforcement presence in Portland has sparked outrage in recent days as protestors recall “federal agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear” deploying tear gas, assaulting people and arresting them with no explanation.

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According to the New York Times, “The agents in Portland are part of ‘rapid deployment teams’ put together by the Department of Homeland Security after Mr. Trump directed federal agencies to deploy additional personnel to protect statues, monuments, and federal property during the continuing unrest.”

Though recent protests in Portland center around the federal courthouse, reporting has shown people arrested with no apparent connection to destruction of federal property.

Ernst has taken an interest in so-called “autonomous zones” that cropped up in a couple cities in response to protests against police brutality, introducing legislation last month to block federal funding for cities “that allow anarchist jurisdictions — like CHAZ — to continue.”

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“When we have local authorities that are totally abdicating their responsibilities to their citizens, then it is up to us … to send federal law enforcement officers to protect federal property,” Ernst said Tuesday.

“So, I do believe that in this instance it was the proper thing to do. But again, only to be used to protect federal property. They aren’t going in to do the policing that should be done by those local authorities,” she continued. “They’re just there to protect federal property.”

In answering the Register’s question, Ernst did not take the opportunity to push back on Trump’s threat to send agents into Chicago, where homicides have been especially high this summer.

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The president has raged against “Radical Left Democrats” and “liberally run” cities to make the case for deploying the feds.

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By Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 7/21/20

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